8 Insights to Help College Students be Successful

To help students succeed in college, an article from The Washington Post listed out a variety of things that students should be aware of or at the very least start think through when gearing up for college. Here are eight of their ideas we’d like to share:

  1. Carefully plan your first-semester schedule.
    Planning out your schedule for the year can be overwhelming.  Things to consider: If you are not a morning person, signing up for a bunch of 8 AM classes, is just not practical.  Also, try not to overload yourself. The article suggested to “take a moderate load of courses totaling no more than 12 to 18 credit hours.” Check out Atomic Learning’s How Do I Prepare for a College Workload? course to better prepare.
  2. Take your roommate agreement seriously.
    No one ever said having a roommate would be easy. Especially when living quarters or dorm rooms can be cramped. Everyone has preferences regarding study time, overnight quests, food, furniture and more. The article went on to say, “Being upfront about your expectations from the beginning can help avoid problems later.” This course on What Concerns Should I Have About a Roommate? may also help.

6 Practical Tips to Writing Better Papers

According to an article from Oxford Royale Academy, the 6 tips below can help you and/or your students write better papers. When students are in a class where they are writing papers often, it’s easy to get stuck in a writing style rut. Especially so when they have found something where they received positive feedback, or better yet a good grade. The tips below can help shake up students writing style and techniques.

  1. Read other people’s essays
    Your writing style is easily shifted or enhanced by the writing style of the books your read. By reading other people’s essays, you can help to better define your style and tone. The Oxford Royale Academy goes on to say, “As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any techniques you’ve not seen before?”
  2. Build your vocabulary and use it properly
    Readers can find long drawn out sentences and paragraphs frustrating, especially when the use of a broader vocabulary could have shortened the amount of words. The article talks about how, “[Your vocabulary is] something you should be working on continually, as there are always new words to learn that could help convey a point more effectively.” They also mention ways to help you build up your vocabulary, such as subscribing to a ‘word a day’ email, referring to a dictionary, and/or referencing a thesaurus.
  3. Words to help develop an argument
    Oxford Royale Academy points out, “Avoid using the same words every time; many people overuse the word “also”, for example. Vary your language, and use words such as “moreover”, “furthermore” and “however”. Such words help develop your argument and make the reader feel they are being guided through the problems on a sort of ‘journey’ to your conclusion.”
  4. Elevator pitching your essays
    Creating a plan is an absolute must, when it comes to well written papers. To make the planning process easier, start by writing an ‘Elevator Pitch’.  This tactic is used by sales people to help condense their sales pitch into the smallest amount of words, in hopes of staying compelling and interesting to the potential buyer. The article goes on to say, “Your Elevator Pitch for your essay should sell the idea of it to a reader, leaving them wanting to read the essay in question. This is quite a tough exercise, as it forces you to be ruthlessly concise in your thinking and choice of words; but you can use this summary to help you write your introduction, and it’ll help you achieve clarity in what you’re trying to say.”
  5. Tell the reader what other people say
    To start, jot some notes down on influential people in your paper’s field of study. That way, as you research you can create a repository of people to refer back to when you want to pull their views and opinions into your paper. By telling the reader what others have to say about the topic, this not only helps validate the points you are trying to make, but also makes the paper more interesting to read. 
  6. Tone of voice and punctuation
    When it comes to the tone of your paper, you probably already have it established. The question you have to ask yourself… Is my tone interesting and does it engage the reader? The article suggests reading through some of your older papers with a more critical look at your tone. The Oxford Royale Academy goes on to say, “Effective punctuation is vital in conveying your arguments persuasively; the last thing a teacher or lecturer wants to read is an essay riddled with poor grammar. What’s more, the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it.”

5 Simple Ways to Develop Students’ Digital Literacy

5 Simple Ways to Develop Students’ Digital Literacy
While there are a variety of ways to help build and encourage students’ digital literacy, we’ve gathered five of our personal favorites below that you can implement yet this year—complete with links to related resources to get you off on the right foot!

  1. Build an Understanding of Digital Literacy
    It sounds redundant, but helping students build an understanding of digital literacy is a fundamental way to develop digital literacy skills. Knowledge is power, and helping students to understand that digital literacy is about so much more than simply using technology creates a foundation to build on.
    Related resource: Literacy Reimagined (with Angela Maiers)
  2. Talk About Plagiarism BEFORE it’s a Problem
    Do your students truly understand what plagiarism is? The digital nature of today's world makes it easy to use someone's ideas without citation. So much so, that some students don't even know that what they are doing is wrong. Holding an open conversation about plagiarism is a great way to teach students about proper citation and digital citizenship—critical skills for students not only in college, but beyond.
    Related resource: Avoiding Plagiarism
  3. Help Students Get the Most from Internet Searches
    When it comes to research, internet searches can be a student’s best friend or biggest nemesis. While it’s easy to scan the first few search results for the answer, teach students to go further—yes, past the first page!—and to be skeptical of what they read. Not all sources are equal, and it’s important students seek out a credible source.
    Related resource: Becoming a Good Researcher
  4. Discuss Digital Footprints
    The online actions students' take today may have a lasting impact as they enter into the workforce. Helping them understand what a digital footprint is, the potential consequences, and what they can do to protect their online reputation are important to ongoing success.
    Related resource: Understanding Your Social Media Footprint
  5. Teach Students to Create Digital Work
    One of the best ways for students to apply learned digital literacy skills is through creating their own digital works. In addition, many of such projects serve as evidence of learning and hone skills that will be valuable for ongoing academic and career success.
    Related resources: Creating Digital Portfolios

Don’t have access to Atomic Learning? Request information on how you and your entire school can access the resources outline above and hundreds of others focused on effective professional development and other highly-relevant topics.

This post was inspired by an informED article, 20 Things Educators Need To Know About Digital Literacy Skills

2 Ways to Engage Today’s Learner [Infographic]

You may have just begun to get comfortable with Millennials and are now looking for ways to relate to, connect with, and engage Gen Z-ers. The most digitally connected of all generations to date, they were born into and grew up in the digital age. They tend to speak in images, are entrepreneurial, culturally aware, and globally motivated. Fifty-percent of Gen Z-ers are expected to be University educated.

Just who is Gen Z?

How can you connect with and engage this generation of students? Atomic Learning offers courses on Snapchat in Education, YouTube for Educators, Twitter for Educators, Instagram, Globally Connected Through Video Streaming, and more.

1 Statistic Colleges Can’t Ignore

One out of three students drop out of college after the first year.An article posted by U.S. News stated that “As many as 1 in 3 first-year students won't make it back for sophomore year.” A staggering statistic that colleges can’t ignore.  One might ask themselves, what causes so many students to end their college experience? A lot of factors can be involved, including everything from lack of money and roommate issues to not academically prepared or emotionally ready.

A recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education provides several insights on the challenges that many students face during their freshman year of college. Although each student’s experience can be very different, there are emotional readiness factors that seem to overlap.

"Several factors can contribute to "emotional readiness," including students’ ability to adapt to new environments, handle negative emotions in constructive ways, and forge healthy relationships. The survey found that the more prepared a student is for the emotional challenges of college — and for the anxieties that might come with it, such as covering expenses, making friends, and dealing with increased independence — the better and more successful that student’s college experience is."

According to the article, these factors can be the difference between a student feeling confident and excelling in their classes or a student falling behind and dropping out entirely.

What is your campus doing to help mitigate first-year student dropouts?

Writing Effective Learning Outcomes

In education today, we may find chapter outcomes in our text books and course outcomes in our syllabus, but do we think about what our true goals are for our students each and every class? Atomic Learning's new online course outlines why we need solid, measurable, and scaffolded outcomes at every level of our teaching. We break down the parts of a well written outcome.